Gerhard, 81 & Else, 78
Gerhard, 81 & Else, 78
We were afraid that you wouldn’t come because it’s hard to believe that someone so young could be interested in us.
Him: We met on a bike trip. It was soon after the war. My mum and I walked all the way from Dresden to Bremen. And on our way they (I think it was the Americans but we didn’t really understand) put us to these deportation camps for the Germans, but we were not Nazis and they let us go at some point. Just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They let us go, and so we walked. I’ve never been to Dresden since then. I’m not the only one, we don’t want to go back there. I don’t feel that the war defined me in any way. As I said, we just happened to be there. I was a child. I guess we were hungry, I don’t remember. I don’t remember that camp. I just remember that we walked and walked, and walked. But it’s not the main event of my life.
The main event of my life is meeting my wife on a bike trip. That’s how life works. War is nothing but this is everything. I was helping American soldiers to do some construction work in Bremen after the war. One of those soldiers, he was African American, he played records and I heard this music I’ve never heard before. And instinctively I just started moving, very clumsily I’d guess. But that soldier was watching me and then he just gave me that record. That’s how I heard jazz for the first time. And that was my second main life event.
Then Else’s family moved to Spain. And I thought ‘I have to go after her’. So I went. And I gave her that record but we couldn’t listen to it because we didn’t have a record player. We had to wait and after we got married we finally could listen to it. And she didn’t like it.
Her: No, I didn’t like it.
Him: At first.
Her: At first, yes. Because it doesn’t have a melody, you know? It’s just sounds. For about the last 30 years we’ve gone to a jazz concert in every city we’re in. When I think of my life, I think of it as a good one, I think I’m so lucky, even though there are plenty of dark spots in it. I was born before the war, it wasn’t easy. But then I remember one evening at San Marco in Venice when we danced to jazz for hours, and that yes, my life is beautiful.
What I love the most…I love our family, we have four grandchildren. We are very lucky. What I admire about Gerhard and I think, it was partly a reason why I fell in love with him is his attitude towards family. His family was very small and when he was young, he wasn’t a family type guy. And you know, family is very difficult but he was so ready and so brave to give it a try. I remember our first Christmas together, we spent it with my family. It was his first real family Christmas. I remember his reaction, I was deeply touched.
I think we did very well.
Him: Yes, we did very well.
Her: I was worried when he retired. He used to work, he loved it. But then he found these free courses at our local university.
Him: Yes, I study theology and philosophy.
Her: We were so surprised that even we can study at our age.
Him: I have never feared anything in my life, even when I was at that deportation camp after the war – I knew I could survive that. But now I’m old, I fear dying first and leaving my wife alone. I fear dying after her as well.
Her: I don’t want him to be alone. I don’t want to leave him.